Mastering the art of public speaking: Pay attention to booking information

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Spence M. Finlayson is an international conference speaker and the founder and CEO of Master Motivator Spence Finlayson Speakers Academy. He is a much sought after motivational speaker and has spoken in over 26 foreign countries with 30 years experience. He can be reached at 242-677-0418 or by email at [email protected]

By Spence M. Finlayson

One of the fundamental things you will find that is very important for a public speaker is paying attention to the booking information. That is the information you have gathered from the organization that has invited you to speak. At first glance this may seem very simple.

Over my 31 years as an international motivational speaker, I have had booking agents at various times and many times I have been my own booking agent. The booking agent’s job is to negotiate my speaking fee along with getting the specific details about the organization and what they are trying to achieve. Information like when I will be speaking, how long will I be required to speak, who is coming on before me and immediately after me.

Some months ago, I was invited to speak to a church function during their 11 am morning Sunday service. I had a booking agent who was handling everything for me so I relaxed and allowed them to do their job. Well, I was under the impression that it was the pastor’s anniversary so I prepared my speech around that. The agent never really explained what was happening at the church.

When we got to the church before the service, we had a chance to meet with the pastor and his lovely wife. He then told me that it was a service honoring the men of the church and they would be conducting the service. Whoa! I am here getting ready to take the stage in 15 minutes and I learn that my prepared speech was all wrong.

I tried to incorporate something about the men in my address but I felt funny about the entire deal. Long story short, that particular booking agent don’t work with me anymore. The pastor said, the speech was good, but it was for a pastor’s anniversary and he would invite me back to speak at that time. You must pay attention to the booking information.

I had another experience a few years ago when I was acting as my own booking agent, which usually happen when persons are very familiar with you and your body of work.

I got a message from my good friend saying that his sister wanted me to speak at a seminar for the usher ministry of the church and he mentioned the Chairperson’s last name, which was Hilton. So, on the morning of the event, I got ready and drove to the British Colonial Hilton downtown Nassau. I was ahead of time as usual but when I entered the parking lot, I did not see many cars. I am very familiar with this hotel which was my base of operations for more than 10 years, where I conducted my public seminars and taped my international motivational television “Dare to Be Great”.

So, as I entered the hotel, the bellman asked me what I was doing there on a Saturday, and I told him that I was a special guest speaker for Holy Cross Anglican Church and he promptly told me that there was no church having any function there. So, I hurriedly check with the Concierge Desk and was told no motivator, there is not church function here this morning. So, I went to the front desk and was told the same thing. It was then that the light bulb went off in my head.

I came to the Hilton Hotel because I remember seeing the chairperson name on the message. I was so wrong, I immediately jumped in my car and quickly drove to Holy Cross Anglican church and got there in time with nobody realizing I was at the wrong venue. It’s important to be ahead of time.

As a professional speaker, you should play close attention to the booking details to avoid any calamity.

When I speak internationally, I include important details like who is meeting me at the airport, who will be responsible for my ground transportation, who will be responsible for my hotel accommodations, the food and beverage and incidentals?

I also like to know who is speaking before me and who is speaking immediately after me. The reason for finding out who is speaking after me or what will be happening after my presentation is that I like to sell my books and compact discs right after my speech. It’s a captive audience and hopefully you would have made an impression on them so that they will be ready to buy your material. Being fully cognizant of what is expected of you as a speaker is vitally important so I always asked the organization what they would like to achieve from my presentation.

Finally, I just had another experience where there was a miscommunication between me and the organization. A gentleman called me some months ago to book me to speak at this organization prayer breakfast. All he told me was that he wanted me to say something to the men’s choir that would inspire them. So, I am preparing my presentation for the men’s choir.

Lo and behold I get to the venue and I was approached by a member of the committee and he said “that I should piggy back off his presentation” which was a financial one. I was stunned! I had to switch from my prepared presentation and go to my signature speech. It all worked out. I was given a standing ovation and the pastor told me that I was awesome as usual.

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